Okay, so that headline is a little inside joke … at myself. Because I actually forgot to talk about this album when doing a full video review of all the albums available on the September 2012 iGMB. But the music really is quite memorable.
This substantial (30+ minute) soundtrack from composer Sean Beeson manages to evoke memories of Star Wars and Machinarium, often within one measure of music. Mecho Wars HD: Desert Ashes may or may not be a great game (I haven’t had the chance to play it yet!), but the game studio behind this iOS title is fortunate to have such good music accompanying it.
Find out more, and listen to the soundtrack via bandcamp embed, after the jump.
Okay, so the opening tracks “Mecho Wars” and “Desert Witch” are the synth orchestra equivalent to today’s memorable film score themes: from folks like John Williams, Howard Shore, and James Newton Howard, but without any live performance. “Mecho Wars” sounds a heck of a lot like it would fit in the Star Wars universe, whereas “Desert Witch” has a more “high fantasy” feel to it. Both are intensely acoustic orchestral tracks with strong, fleshed-out melodic themes.
But over time, the soundscape begins to change. The waves of electronica crash against the shore of acoustic/orchestral land, only making a small splash at first (the ethereal echoes and reverb in “Ashes”) but eventually rising to high tide and taking over the feel of the soundtrack as a whole (“Matrix Rapture,” “Timeless”). I love this eventual, inevitable conversion of the soundscape. It’s clear that Beeson is capable and even formidable in a plethora of musical styles, but the real trick is being able to maintain some semblance of consistency when switching back and forth.
And yet, somehow, I think Beeson does it with this OST. I think it certainly helps that the nature of this game, a turn-based strategy in the style of Advance Wars and Fire Emblem, allows Beeson to cross the line of “emulated ‘real’ instrument” and “purely synthetic sound” without any detriment to the soundtrack. Even without the context of the game, though, just looking at the artwork and knowing what the music is for, I can safely say “it works.”
The album resolves the orchestra/electronica divide in the end with the track “Oasis,” which has as a central feature the mighty pitched percussion (xylophone, marimba, etc). It’s no secret that I’m in love with those instruments: I played them for multiple ensembles in high school and college, and I find that they are almost always used *well* when used in game soundtracks. It’s like you can’t go wrong with them. Giving them center stage alongside those haunting ethereal vocals for the album’s ending (pre-Credits) was a great choice.
If you missed the iGMB, you can still pick up this album for $5 on Bandcamp.Tags: Bandcamp, Desert Ashes, Electronic, Game Music Bundle, iGame Music Bundle, iGMB, iOS, Marimba, Mecho Wars HD, Orchestral, Reviews, Sean Beeson, Xylophone